where are the glory days of david attenborough stumbling through bug infested jungles? of john thaw drinking his way solidly through an episode of Morse? of channel 4 throwing hip young things (and janet street porter) at air space and money and watching as Curt Cobain tells the word that Courtney Love is the best fuck he's ever had?
alas, sadly no more.
now it seems all the channels are competing in their attempts to dredge the very depths of cliched, superficial and fucking fucking awful programing. anything of any value is consigned to the digital outback while Vernon Kay (that puss-filled lesion on the diseased face of broadcasting) prances gaily through the gaudy neon streets of terestrial television.
BBC 2 offered the perfect example this evening as they devoted their prime time, sunday night 8 till 9 slot to two shows so shamelessly pitched at zoo-reading neolithic 'man' as to be insulting.
first up we had the 'Best of Top Gear'.,a show which at its best still recalls memories of the three boys in school who'd blindly bully and out-do each other in some vainglorious dick-measuring contest to the chorus of smug chuckles from their assorted audience of friends (alas, i was i admit one of those friends). but tonight (it being a special night) they conducted the particularly pointless macho endevour of racing a ferrari across Europe to switzerland against two people flying and taking public transport to the same destination. now, beyond the simple truth that this celebrates the worst kind of boy-racer dangerous driving (and in doing celebrates these consequences), what exactly are these pricks trying to prove? that we should shun public transport because we can get somewhere sooner by just driving our cars a little faster, using a little more fuel? are these gentleman genuinely suggesting that the best thing for the future is if we clogged the roads with a few more unnecessary cars, driving a little more unnecessarily fast? no. of course they aren't. its just a pointless testosterone fuelled stunt that further supports the constructed notion that this is how 'men have fun'.
and that seems to have been the theme of this hour of programing as Top Gear was followed by a new show called mechannibals. yes. that's right. mechannibals.
| Mechannibals |
First in the brand new series championing the ingenuity of Britain's real life backyard inventors, this show follows two families competing to create the best machine to decimate a garden shed. [S]
essentially, this show consisted of men ripping apart various practical appliances in their own homes (washing machines, scooters etc.) to build a machine to destroy a shed. but the show seemed less interested in the ingenuity of the machines themselves than the tearful protestations of wives and children who had to watch as their menfolk, blind to their pleading and their quite obvious upset, ripped apart anything and everything with the final goal of destroying a wooden hut (with the reward of supplying their family with a uneeded improvements on the machinery that they have just destroyed). with glee the director shows us how men while away the hours constructing pointless machines while their long suffering families looked on. you could almost hear the 'wahey's and 'get in their my son!'s of the Top Gear studio audience.
and once again, the main point of all this is simply that this is what men do. this is what men do to have fun: they read FHM. they 'have a fuck about'. they do dangerous, pointless, selfish things at the expense of everybody else. and there's no shame in these this, in fact, if you want to be a man, you want to enjoy the smug acclaim of lads and ladettes alike, you must do these things too. you must.
an audience can only be as smart as you let it be.
please, people of the BBC, people of Granada, people of Channel 4, let us be smarter.
let us be better than we can be.
and never fear my friends, for there is hope.